Spirit of the law, not its letter, should matter more | Inquirer Opinion

Spirit of the law, not its letter, should matter more

/ 04:02 AM September 22, 2021

This is a reaction to Reginald Tamayo’s concern for strict adherence to rules and procedures in Senate inquiries (“Disclose target laws of Senate inquiries,” 9/15/21).

The Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation into Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. was triggered by a Commission on Audit (COA) report that uncovered significant red flags in the use of the Department of Health’s COVID-19 funds, particularly the transfer of P42 billion to the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management for the procurement of COVID-19-related devices and equipment.


In the exercise of its oversight functions over the utilization of Congress-approved appropriations and its investigative powers to establish the veracity of reports or complaints of malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance in the performance of governmental functions, the committee proceeded motu proprio to look into the COA report. In the course of the investigation, it stumbled upon the highly suspicious procurement of face masks, face shields, personal protective equipment, and COVID-19 test kits amounting to at least P8 billion awarded to a single supplier, Pharmally, a newly formed, undercapitalized company with ties to a Chinese national and close adviser of the President.

As the mystery-filled transactions are slowly but methodically being unraveled by the Senate blue ribbon committee, the public is able to see a clear pattern of collusion, favoritism, and connection to the highest corridors of power, without which these highly anomalous government deals would not have been possible at all.


It was only in the course of the committee hearings that a number of remedial legislation to plug loopholes in existing procurement laws became apparent. It would therefore have been almost impossible, as Tamayo asserts is prescribed under the Constitution and Senate rules, to identify laws to be reviewed and amended even before the start of the Senate inquiry in aid of legislation.

National interest is paramount in this case if only to ferret out the truth and bring those who have betrayed the trust of the people before the bar of justice, without being hamstrung by the strict application of rules and procedures. It is the spirit of the law, and not its letter, that should matter more.

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TAGS: Donato Soliven, Letters to the Editor, National Interest, Pharmally probe, spirit of the law
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